From the Track to the Innovation Lab: Mufaro Hungwe Represents Women in STEM

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Sports athletes and dedication are like two peas in a pod. Always pushing themselves past their limits and remaining committed to excellence, sports can offer an incredibly rewarding experience and build lifelong skills that extend far beyond any field or track. Living proof of the diverse benefits of playing sports is Mufaro Martina Hungwe, a Sports Product Innovator whose track record highlights Hungwe’s resilience, creativity, and, of course, dedication.

Hungwe has been involved in the sports world as long as she can remember, taking part in sports like track & field, cross country, tennis, field hockey, and more since starting junior school in Harare, Zimbabwe. This sports powerhouse proved her athletic prowess, usually performing in the percentile of all sports that she took part in.

While in high school, Hungwe competed for the Zimbabwean National Field Hockey Team for six years and for the Zimbabwean Track & Field National Team for five years. Taking her talents overseas, Hungwe received a track and field scholarship at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri, where she studied Exercise Science. But Hungwe transferred to the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) after her sophomore year, competing as an NCAA DI Track & Field athlete for her last two years of undergraduate and two years of graduate school.

It was at UNLV that Hungwe changed her area of study to Kinesiology, the study of kinetics-movement. Hungwe was driven by her passion and personal connection to sports and athletics, but it was a physical injury that opened her eyes to the power of Kinesiology. After suffering an intense hamstring strain that threatened to sideline her collegiate track career, Hungwe worked with a Physical Therapist who was able to combine theories of Physical Therapy, Biomechanics, and Exercise Physiology, which got her back on the track in half the time it usually takes to heal from this type of injury.

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With her attention on Kinesiology, Hungwe furthered her education with a Master’s in Biomechanics, where she completed a thesis that has generated interest across the globe. But Hungwe pushed herself to new limits by attending the University of Oregon for their Sports Product Management Program—the only program of its kind in the United States. Her impressive higher academic journey has opened doorways for some major projects that Hungwe was able to work on, such as new foot and footwear senor testing methodologies at Heeluxe Lab, LLC and consulting on Traction Device Product Line Extensions at Mountain Safety Research (MSR—the current number one market leader in premium snowshoes) under Cascade Designs Inc.

Hungwe’s passion for running has never left her side. Familiarity with the sports world has given this sports trailblazer a unique perspective on leading creativity and empathizing with athletes’ pain points that propel her Sports Product innovation. With big goals for the future, Hungwe hopes to start her own sports brand that can outfit the whole of the African continent, hoping to have the opportunity to give back to the countries that shaped Hungwe into the athlete and leading product innovator she is today.

When asked about the lack of women in the Sports Product industry, she says, “There are not many women, especially women of color, in the Sports Product industry, so breaking into a male-dominated industry was challenging. There [is] a lot of red tape.”

Beyond athletes in Africa, Hungwe’s story serves as an inspiration to all young girls and women who dream of being the future women in STEM industries to keep going, and this sports powerhouse remains dedicated to championing more women in such spaces while supporting kids with sports passions to see their dreams turn into reality.

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